A senior Conservative MP has warned that the Prime Minister’s recent deal on European Union membership could be used as a “Trojan horse” to further extend the powers of the EU within Britain. The government has promised to look into the claims.
Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the influential Commons Treasury Committee raised the issue during an evidence session at the Houses of Parliament yesterday, in which he quizzed Britain’s European Commissioner, Lord Hill, on the text of the agreement.
He argued that a passage in which the words “’without prejudice to the existing powers of the union to take action” had been included constituted a back door for mission creep, undermining claims that the deal protected Britain’s existing sovereignty, the Express has reported.
Mr Tyrie said: “I note that in this agreement that has been agreed it says that while financial stability is ‘a matter for their own authorities’ – that’s the authorities of member states – that responsibility that lies with member states should be ‘without prejudice to the existing powers of the union to take action that is necessary to respond to threats to financial stability’. That looks like competence creep to me.
“It looks like an extension of responsibility taking place under the guise of something that is reinforcing protection for the UK.”
Lord Hill, who is the Commissioner for Financial Stability, denied that the phrase could leave the way open for Brussels to seize more competencies, but couldn’t say why it had been included in the text of the deal.
“I’m afraid that without having that text I’m not able to give you a very satisfactory answer,” he told the Committee.
But Mr Tyrie was not to be disarmed: “I think this is pretty crucial,” he said. “If you don’t mind my saying so, I’m a bit concerned that you are not completely up to speed with what the scope and limits of what appears to be an extension of union powers in the field of financial stability is as a consequence of that language that is now going to be in treaty form, lodged with the UN, and subsequently embodied in the union treaties.”
He added: “We should be very concerned indeed, it seems to me. This agreement, from a British perspective, appears to have protection followed swiftly by what its detractors could easily describe as a Trojan horse of competence creep.”
Lord Hill has agreed to furnish the Committee with a “considered explanation” of the phrase in writing.